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Institution Faculty of Biology
Remuneration group TV-L E13
Full-time / Part-time Full-time (100%)
Start date As soon as possible (The project is funded for three years)
Application deadline 2023-01-31

About us:

We are looking for a highly motivated genomics and computational cell biologist who is interested in coral symbiosis and circadian biology of animals. You will work on a DFG-funded project entitled “Shedding light on corals: How DNA damage repair, cryptochromes and the circadian clock shape the response of Anthozoa to sunlight”. The project is funded for 3 years and a collaboration between the Guse lab (Prof. Annika Guse) and the chronobiology lab of Prof. Nicholas Foulkes at the Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT). For this project, we are using a new experimental model organism, the marine sea anemone Aiptasia.

Project background: Coral reefs are the most biodiverse marine ecosystems on this planet. They thrive in relatively harsh habitats, which are characterized by low levels of nutrients and high levels of sunlight. To overcome these challenges, reef-building corals (class Anthozoa, phylum Cnidaria) exploit sunlight and form a stable symbiosis with photosynthetic, single-celled dinoflagellate algae of the genus Symbiodiniacae. These algae transfer essential nutrients to their coral host. However, corals are sessile animals and are therefore exposed to sustained high levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, the primary cause of DNA damage. To date it is unclear how corals balance the essential harvest of sunlight to promote symbiont photosynthesis while avoiding excessive DNA damage and thus genomic instability. To address this, we will use the symbiotic sea anemone Aiptasia as a model, in combination with comparative fieldwork to better understand how corals adapt to the various effects of sunlight in their environments. What are the molecular adaptations to withstand high levels of UV radiation? How are they interconnected with DNA damage repair mechanisms and the circadian clock? To what extend are these adaptations shaped by the coral-dinoflagellate symbiosis? Overall, we seek to generate a functional understanding of the DNA damage response in Cnidaria and specifically corals, aiming to reveal links between photobiology, cellular function, circadian clocks and behavior.

We are looking for you:

Postdoctoral Researcher in Computational Cell Biology in Cnidaria (m/f/x)

in Planegg-Martinsried

Your tasks and responsibilities:

Project Aims: In this project, you will use bioinformatics and phylogenetics to generate an inventory of the molecular toolbox for DNA damage repair in Anthozoa and associated regulatory systems (e.g. the circadian clock). To complement this in silico approaches, you will develop reliable CRISPR/Cas9 method based on our previous protocol for microinjection method to deliver protein, mRNA, and DNA into zygotes of Aiptasia (Jones et al. Sci Rep 6, 2018) and our preliminary CRISPR/cas9 reagents. The ultimate goal is to knock-out and/or perturb genes in the sea anemone Aiptasia that have been implicated in sensing and repairing UV-induced DNA damage such as the newly discovered AnthoCRY cryptochromes (Gornik at al. Mol Biol Evol 38, 2021) to assess their molecular function. In parallel, you will experimentally test the extent and dynamics of DNA damage using qPCR quantitation and RNA-seq analysis with the ultimate goal to systematically document the DNA damaging effects of different light stressors. and to identify the degree of circadian clock and light-driven regulation of DNA damage repair responses associated with sunlight exposure (with and without genetic perturbation). Guided by the obtained results, you will test whether observations in the model Aiptasia are also relevant for reef building corals in an experimental mesocosm (in collaboration with the Jörg Wiedemann lab in Southampton (UK)). By combining diverse in silico and experimental approaches, this project will provide fundamentally new insight into the mechanisms with which corals adapt to high levels of UV exposure, a prerequisite to create the most productive marine ecosystems on our planet.

Your qualifications:

The position is available for early-career scientists holding a PhD-degree. The successful candidate has a strong background in genetics, molecular biology or cell biology with a proven track record using CRISPR/Cas9 or equivalent molecular tools. You should also have experience in generation and analysis of RNA-Seq data. Moreover, phylogenomics experience and working with command line tools such as IQ-TREE, DESeq2 and various R packages (e.g. pcaExplorer) are an advantage, as is familiarity with handling marine cnidarians (e.g. Aiptasia, Nematostella, etc.). Our working language is English. We expect good communication skills, the ability to work independently as well enjoying contributing to a diverse research team.


This position offers the opportunity to work in a diverse, international and motivated team, dedicated to advancing our understanding of coral symbiosis. Our research is highly topical and we seek to actively contribute to a sustainable world. Accordingly, we offer to complement your basic research activities with opportunities for further training and with participation in transfer and outreach activities including ¡vamos, symbiosis¡ ( The laboratory is well-funded and researchers are supported by an excellent laboratory infrastructure at the HighTechCampus Planegg-Martinsried, which is part of the largest German university. We value good communication, a pleasant working atmosphere and personal responsibility. We are also dedicated to contribute to open and reproducible science. If applicable, you will participate in coral reef field work in Okinawa (Japan) and interact with international collaboration partners.

This is a full-time position and remuneration is up to TV-L E13, depending on qualifications. LMU has signed the "Diversity Charter" and is committed to the diversity of its employees. We therefore actively promote gender equality.

Also possible in a part-time capacity.

People with disabilities who are equally as qualified as other applicants will receive preferential treatment.


We look forward to receiving your application via e-mail (one PDF, max. 5 MB) by 2023-01-31 to: Prof. Dr. Annika Guse

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